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Paradise Lost: Moloch's Warfare Vs. Belial's Coexistence Essay

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The Second Book of Paradise Lost, by John Milton, opens at the Council of War amongst the demons of Hell. Moloch, demon warrior, passionately advocates for open warfare. On the other hand, Belial, the sarcastic demon, uses asperity to criticize Moloch's argument. This Council, particularly the arguments that Moloch and Belial present, represent two separate schools of thought: warfare at any cost and existence at any price.

Moloch, upon getting his chance to speak, wastes no time in expressing his opinion: open warfare with heaven. He is full of mixed emotions at this point, such as: shame, insult, torment, arrogance, and vengeance. These fuel the passionate rhetoric which he gives in support of his stand.

The shame which they all feel, comes from the loss of Heaven or more specifically the loss to Heaven, in their rebellious conflict. Another part of the shame may be the result of their loss, which is Hell. They were accustomed to a beautiful Paradise, yet they reside in a Paradise Lost. Their shame of defeat is thus added to be their exile to this dismal, dark, burning place.

Insult, is added from the pursuit of the fallen angels as they descend into the deep. The battle is over, yet they are still being pursued by God and by His angels. There is a Latin sense to this, as the footnote suggests, that they were being stamped or danced upon, by the Heavenly Hosts. Defeat must of been humiliating (shameful) enough, yet this feeling of being "stamped upon" must of just added salt to their "wounds."

Torment, is an emotion either caused by the demons being in actual torment by their surroundings or by the actual separation between themselves and Heaven. The actual physical landscape, is one of burning la...


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... make-up of their characters. Moloch, is a fallen angel who is mentioned earlier as a "horrid King" to whom children were sacrificed, a warrior demon who fights at all costs. Belial is the most dissolute and sophisticated of the fallen angels, speaking smoothly and seemingly reasonable, however it is all for his "ignoble ease" rather than for honorable action. Both characters and their speeches are at polar opposites. One advocates war, while the other advocates inaction. Both speeches are effective in getting their points across. Moloch uses syntax to provoke passionate emotional responses and channels the responses in his aggressive direction. Belial uses descriptive language to play on the fears of the other demons to cow them to his point of view. These dynamic speeches give a point of view for the indecisive demons that truly represent their speakers.



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